Alcatraz Reaches Major Milestone

SAN FRANCISCO — A major anniversary is approaching for the former infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.

March 21, 2013 marks 50 years since the prison’s closure. Almost 10 years later, the National Park Service (NPS) became the stewards of the island and are holding a special event to mark the prison’s anniversary.

The event will include an opening of a special exhibit of photographs based on the book, Alcatraz: The Last Day. There will also be special presentations by former guards who worked at the facility and also by people who lived on Alcatraz while it was a penitentiary.

When Alcatraz permanently closed as a penitentiary on March 21, 1963, Leigh Wiener, a seasoned professional photographer was contracted to the island to document the day. During his time there he snapped over 300 images that went unpublished, until his son discovered them 45 years later. His son contacted NPS and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy published Wiener’s never-before seen work.

Now, the exhibit will be opening for tourists on the island free of charge. The exhibit will begin on March 21 and run through June 2013, although park officials say it may be extended. The exhibit will feature 27 oversized prints that have never been seen by a public audience to-date.

NPS has taken ownership of the island and has been preserving its past as a historical landmark, while also securing its future with a number of maintenance projects to keep the facility functioning for hundreds of tourists a day. Learn more about some of the facility’s recent maintenance projects here.

To find out more information about the event, follow Alcatraz on Twitter at @AlcatrazIsland or visit